I admit that I was down for the count this weekend due to a major flare-up of my chronic neck, shoulder, arm and hand pain. Which gave me plenty of time to contemplate The Golden Rule of Chronic Illness:
If I push, I will pay. If I pace, I can play.
What can I say? I know the rule, I chose to ignore it and I paid the price. I was bound and determined to get a whole bunch of things done, so I took a big chance testing my limits and hoping I could pull off living on the edge of my energy envelope.
Yeah, that didn't work out very well.
Using my hands too much has gotten me in trouble, again. I know there are limits to how much I can do with my hands before a whole downward spiral of increased pain develops. It's unclear if this sensitivity is due to carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, thoracic outlet syndrome or a combination of all three.
This past weekend I really got in touch with how frustrating my hand pain can be. One of the things I love to do is arts and crafts and the problems I have with my hands severely limit how much and how often I can pursue this pastime. My hands also interfere with my ability to write in a journal, cook or use the computer, among other things. As far as the computer is concerned, I try to compensate by using a speech-to-text program with mixed results.
After two days of aggressive rest, my hands and everything connected to them are on the mend. Two days of doing nothing also gave me lots of time to think and I've decided to move forward and schedule a consultation with an orthopedic hand surgeon recommended to me by my neurologist. I think it's time to seriously consider having carpal tunnel surgery despite my concerns and fears.
In light of the fact that I've been paying recently, I'm wondering if you are paying too. Have you been ignoring The Golden Rule of Chronic Illness?
For that matter, have you ever heard of The Golden Rule of Chronic Illness before? In case you were wondering, it's actually something I've put together myself. Its inspiration was the many online conversations I had with fellow chronic pain and fibromyalgia sufferers who time and again extolled the power of pacing and identified pushing as a major source of flare-ups. I find it to be a simple way to remind myself of the most essential self-help tool I can use to manage my fibromyalgia and chronic pain symptoms: pacing.
As always, I invite you to leave your answer to the Question of the Week here or over on the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page. While you're at it, can you also leave me some feedback about my new blog header? I'm investing some time and money into a blog makeover and would love to know what you think.
Have a great week and I hope it's full of play!